After frustrating injury Kevin Minter returns

TEMPE, Ariz. -- The paint has finally dried for Kevin Minter.

The Cardinals inside linebacker returned to practice Monday, two weeks after being sidelined by a strained pectoral muscle. He grew frustrated watching from the sideline during camp but he knew Arizona was just being cautious with his return.

However, that reassurance didn't make the days go by any faster.

"It was like watching paint dry," Minter said Monday. "It was so boring, just rehabbing and just watching. You obviously want to be out there, especially with the camp I was having. I was having a real good camp up until that point. I was excited though. I'm back. I'm ready to get this show on the road."

Minter's road to Week 1 will take a detour through San Diego on Thursday in both teams' final preseason game. While Arians said the starters won't play against the Chargers, Minter said it's possible he may see a few reps to get his football legs back. Eleven days later, the Cardinals and Chargers will meet again on "Monday Night Football" and Minter expects to be on the field.

Before Sunday's game at University of Phoenix Stadium, Minter, who played just one defensive snap last year, according to ESPN Stats & Information, went through a series of running drills with strength and conditioning coach Buddy Morris. Pain hasn't been an issue, Minter said. He spent part of his rehab strengthening his pectoral muscle.

The Cardinals told Minter his starting spot would be safe when he got hurt, he said. Kenny Demens was tapped to replace him with the first team during the preseason and had his best game Sunday against Cincinnati. But Minter, who was drafted in the second round in 2013, is the future at the position.

"I did a lot to earn this spot," he said. "But, obviously, a lot of the linebackers that have been playing (have been playing) very well and I still got to work to get it."